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2006 Verve Awards

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Best Arts and Culture Blog Nominee

Thursday, July 12, 2007


So I Thought I Could Dance...

Sadly, real life got in the way last night...or more specifically, in the way of our weekly recap of So You Think You Can Dance, which I'm guessing was pretty fierce. I had to spend time with the parentals (yes, still on vacation), so I'm hoping that you ModFab Readers can catch me up. What happened? Who danced well, and who danced terribly? Who's going home, in your esteemed opinion? C'mon, help a brother out!

UPDATE: The one and only Tiffany, our resident SYTYCD expert, has graciously agreed to recap last night's episode...and here it is, with tons more detail and opinion than I would do! Thanks, dearest...it is fabulous! (And sorry there's no graphics to accompany it, but I'm on the laptop and don't have access.)


Hello, Modern Fabulosity readers! I'm here today, guest-blogging on last night's episode of So You Think You Can Dance. And you know whatmy assessment was? Curious underwhelment (is that even a word? I don't know, but it fits). Don't get me wrong -- the dancing, as usual, was fabulous. But there was something missing for me, and it's entirely possible that this sense is stemming from the season as a whole, rather than last night in particular. I'm not as engaged this season as I was last season, despite believing that the talent level this year is infinitely better than what we saw last year. It may have something to do with the judges -- please make Mary a rotating judge next year because she's loud, obnoxious, and not that funny (or really, funny at all). (Also, note to the judges: STOP MAKING NONSENSICAL CUTS!!!! (We miss you, Chuy.)) It may have something to do with fatigue -- I EXHAUSTED myself on SYTYCD last year. Or, it may be a combination of both. My comparative lack of love notwithstanding, I did enjoy the show well enough last night.

During our "Meet the Jidges" segment last night, we learned that our guest judge for the evening was Adam Shankman, the director/choreographer of the upcoming movie-musical, "Hairspray." Now, I'm just as excited about "Hairspray" as any other dance freak, but Shankman is a goddamned tool. More on that later. Suffice to say that I ended the evening incredibly disappointed in him, especially when he started off so well. He declared Cat "catastrophically Cat-tastic!"; he said that he used to gather the dancers from "Hairspray" in his home every Wednesday night so that they could watch the show, and for dinner they ordered in Italian or Chinese -- "food, not people" (one of the best lines EVER on this show); he made intelligent commentary on the dancing itself. But then he went and ruined everything when he commented on Danny, so he has earned my ire for life.

In addition, Nigel mentioned the fact that he had received a petition signed by over 1,000 people asking for Jessi's reinstatement. He responded with gratitude, saying that he appreciated the passion and excitement that people had for the show, but also, this was -- wait for it -- an elimination-based reality show, and someone would have to get cut every week. In Jessi's case (and I'm paraphrasing here), she simply couldn't perform. After making some tired comparison to the Olympics, he said that the decision was hard, but ultimately subjective, and that justified their decision to deep-six Jessi. Now, here is my take on the situation: I agree with everything you Nigel said. She apparently went to the hospital twice, suffering from dehydration both times, and she admitted in follow-up interviews that she wasn't taking care of herself properly (she said she wasn't "able" to care for herself properly given the rigor of the show, but if the other dancers can find the time, surely she could, too). I simply dislike the way in which her ouster was handled. If the show decided to cut her because she missed a performance show and was demonstrating her inability to handle the pressure-cooker environment of the show, then it shouldn't have given her (or her fans) any hope. It was the cruelty of the cut that pissed the shit out of me. If Nigel had just been straight with her (and with America), it would have been much, much better. That way, they could have given her the option of coming back to dance for her fans one last time (and you know she would have done it, just so that she could shake her thing with my summer tv boyfriend, Pasha). Anyway, 'nuff said.

Finally, during the interview portions of the show, the dancers revealed things about themselves that no one else knew. Only a few of them were noteworthy, so I'm not going to get into all of them. Still, anyone who watched the show last night knows the lady for whom I'm sharpening my knives, so be prepared.

Okay, on to the dancing.

Lacey and Kameron
Lacey and Kameron did a hustle routine choreographed by Maria Torres. First of all, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!!!! Someone has finally informed America that the hustle is a kick-ass partner dance that has nothing to do with that stupid "Do the Hustle!" shit. Anyway, as Mary said, this was the first true hustle that had ever been performed on the show, and it was fabulous. This leads me to my second point: I was on record for saying this before Nigel did last night, but Lacey really is better than her brother. This young woman is absolutely smashing, she is marvelously versatile, and when she dances I cannot take my eyes off of her. Kameron did excellent partner work (though he was disappointingly stiff at times), but there were times when Lacey was damned near as sexy, sassy, and fierce as my hustle teacher, who is a hustle champ.

(And for you closet shippers out there (is it just me in here?), did you hear Kameron call Lacey "babe" during the rehearsal in that casual, throwaway, intimate tone that is typically reserved for close friends and/or lovers? Hmmmm..... ;-))

Cedric and Shauna
Cedric and Shauna did a mambo routine that was choreographed by Alex da (asshole) Silva. He said during the lead-in interviews that he usually only brings one assistant, but when he heard that he was working with Cedric, he brought three. Screw you, Alex. Many of us agree that Cedric should have been eliminated from the show many, many weeks ago, but that doesn't give you a free pass to be a raging dick. Anyway, maybe it's a good thing that he brought all of those assistants, because you, Alex, have not demonstrated any real ability to teach novices the basic moves in the Latin dances you've choreographed (I'm looking at you, Lauren, for your inability to follow a simple cross-body lead in your salsa performance). The routine itself was not great, but it showed real improvement on Cedric's part. Not only did I see a serviceable mambo basic in there (of course, I also saw the poor thing counting "one, TWO, three, four, one, TWO, three four" in his head.), but I thought that he did a respectable job of leading Shauna through the performance (especially during the turn sequence when he twirled her through a series of turns that must have been approximately 10 turns long (I didn't count)). The shine portion of the performance was a hot mess, though. Alex threw in his trademark heel-toe passage, and while Cedric actually showed some pretty fast footwork, it wasn't clean, and while he and Shauna were in sync during the shine, they were doing different moves. Perhaps it was choreographed that way, but if so, it was ass. Anyway, the judges praised Cedric (reverse psychology, much?), so hopefully, the folks at home didn't work so hard to keep him out of the bottom three.

Danny and Anya
Before I start talking about their performance, I would like to point out the fact that Danny, a former dancer with the ABT, was featured in the New York Times this week. While I appreciated the article's love for Danny (and I particularly enjoyed the way it called out Nigel's consistent homophobic commentary this season), I didn't appreciate its smug disapproval of the show. We don't all have season subscriptions to the best dance companies in New York; we're not all trained dancers who know the difference between rise and fall and a grand jete (I do, but I digress. ;-)). Even though this show is frustrating to the nth degree, it is still part of a trend that is making young people interested in dancing, and for that, I'm grateful.

(Interesting side note: we learned during the interview portion that back in Russia, Anya was not only studying to be a lawyer, but was a smoking hot blonde. I mean, damn girl! Go back to being blonde, and take the hair out of your face. You're gorgeous!)

Anyway. Danny and Anya received a contemporary routine that was choreographed by Tyce D'iorio, and though it wasn't Tyce's best work (that honor probably goes to last year's "Why"), it was still incredibly good. They were supposed to portray two lovers who are breaking up. Anya was playing the spurned lover, while Danny was playing the guy walking away, the one for whom "I'm sorry" was insufficient. And you know what? It was magnificent. Danny's leaps, his pirouettes, his controlled falls to the floor, the grace, power, and control when he would rise from the floor.... I was breathless. As one poster on Television Without Pity put it, he moves like he has hidden wings. Anya was great, too, especially considering the fact that we were out of her specialty. She didn't impress me as much as Lacey did in her contemporary routine, but I still thought that Anya conveyed the attitude and emotion of the piece, and was quite good.

Then, we got the freakin' judges. Shankman started off okay by commending Danny as being the most technically gifted dancer on the show. Mary also praised them both, but she commented on a certain disconnection between the two. Nigel also praised them, but he went on to say that Danny, as good as he is, was missing a certain X factor, a certain magic, that would make people want to vote for him. At this point, Shankman piped in and said that the problem was arrogance, and that Danny was dancing like he believed he had already won. And bless his not-ready-for-tv heart, the expression on Danny's face was a combination of exasperation and an obvious, "So what?" This observation notwithstanding, I'd like to offer a defense of Danny. The man is an amazing dancer, and heavens to Betsy, I think he might actually know it. Somebody shoot the guy. That doesn't make him arrogant, it simply makes him unwilling to suffer foolishness gladly, including foolishness about himself. I hate false modesty more than many things in the world, and I respect a person who refuses to project it. Danny is a dignified man who carries himself with a natural reserve. For certain people, that translates as arrogance. I don't believe it for a second. Well, he might be a little arrogant about his skill, but if you had his skill, wouldn't you be a little bit arrogant, too? I simply don't think that he is overall an arrogant person, and it kills me that the show gave him that stupid edit in the first place. Of COURSE he is reserved and internal in his dancing -- he is a ballet dancer! Of COURSE there was disconnection in the routine itself -- they played a couple who were breaking up!!!!! In any event, Nigel defended Danny and said he was not arrogant, and called Shankman's assessment "crap." Guess who won't be back next year?

As a final note on this subject, I will admit that Danny does lack a certain pop culture magic, if you will. He doesn't electrify a crowd in the same way that Pasha does. Having said that, the magic for me is in his movement and his grace. If he doesn't make the tour, it's not clear to me that I'll actually go. I'll spend the whole evening thinking about what could have been. (Yes, I take this all way too seriously. :-))

Sara and Pasha
Sara and Pasha performed a West Coast Swing routine choreographed by none other than Benji Schwimmer, assisted by his brilliant cousin, Heidi Groskreutz. Allow me to begin by saying that first of all, I am IN LURVE with Pasha. I love the way he moves those hips; I love the fact that he is way nerdier than either Artem (my former tv boyfriend) or Dmitri; I love his dry sense of humor, which was on display last night. At one point, Benji said he had to learn how to be sexy from Dmitri last season (truly, that was one of the more brilliantly entertaining segments I've ever seen on this show). Pasha's ready response: "It didn't work." I'm in love.

Anyway, the routine was great fun, high energy, and so obviously a Benji routine. I mean honestly, from the stairs dancing to the heel slides to the male-female cartwheels, I think I've seen bits and pieces of that routine from his various dances with both Heidi and Lacey (yes, I used to dig up old videos online). There wasn't a whole lot of WCS footwork, and the routine was too trick-laden for my taste. I would have preferred seeing more actual WCS. In its defense, though, it was very much a showcase kind of WCS, which was fun, crowd-pleasing, and one of the best routines of the night (arguably, THE best routine of the night). I enjoyed it.

Sabra and Dominic
Sabra and Dominic got a "soft" hip-hop routine from Shane Sparks. He choreographed it to Ne-Yo. Boy, does he love some Ne-Yo when he is choreographing "soft" hip-hop (recall: Ivan and Allison's umbrella hip-hop was performed to Ne-Yo's "Sexy Love"). A lot of people loved it, and I have to say, they did a wonderful job with the performance. Dominic was great, as expected, and Sabra was hitting moves in a way that was hard and sharp, yet entirely in keeping with the softness of the choreography. Plus, there was a cool breaker handstand that she did and that D'Trix mimicked, which was fun to see (it would have been better if they hadn't given away this surprise during the interviews, but whatever. I still liked it). Finally, they have excellent chemistry together, and they really did a great job playing a couple that was deeply in love with each other. Overall, though, I was underwhelmed by the performance. "Sexy Love" was better last year. Still, the judges loved it, and the crowd did, too.

Jaime and Hok
Jaime and Hok did a smooth waltz, choreographed by Toni Redpath (the woman who choreographed last season's "Vietnamese Waltz" between Benji and Donyelle). She did a lovely job of hiding the fact that Hok can't really waltz by emphasizing the gorgeousness of Jaime's lines. During the judging, though, Mary pointed out the fact that there wasn't a whole lot of waltzing in the waltz, and what little of it was there simply did not measure up from a technical perspective. In addition, when I was watching them move, I kept thinking of Anya and Danny's Viennese waltz from a few weeks ago, and there was simply no comparison between the two.

Lauren and Neil
Lauren and Neil got a jazz routine by Wade Robson, but before we get into it, can I just say how much I cannot abide Lauren Gottlieb right now? I know she's young, so you can't really expect her to have a whole lot of sense, but honest to goodness, there are other young people on the show who have proven that vapidity is not simply par for the course when you're only 18. Lauren is just a bubblehead, and I doubt if time is going to help.

Why am I so up in arms about her? During the interview portion of the segment, she admitted to fetishizing Asian people. According to her, since she has dark hair that she recently chopped up, a million people have been asking her, "Are you Asian?" I'm sorry, but since when is a chopped-up haircut on a brunette evidence of being Asian? But let's be fair. It isn't Lauren's fault that others have mistaken her for being Asian. It IS her fault, though, when she runs with these questions and concludes that she is "looking more Asian lately." It is REALLY her fault when she runs even farther with this and admits that sometimes, when she is auditioning, she signs her name as "Mischa Chan." Wow. She's so stupid that she can't even get her ignorance right. Note to Lauren: Mischa is a Russian name (and a boy's name, at that. I know, I know, Mischa Barton, etc., So what. It's still a boy's name.). If you're going to embrace stereotypes, try to do so correctly. Second note to Lauren: Gwen Stefani has done you, and thousands of girls like
you, a massive disservice through her own fetishization of the harajuku subculture. Grow up, dearie, and get a clue. I won't call you racist; I don't think you're deep enough to go that far. I'll just call you simple and call it good.

On to the dancing itself. This is the first Wade routine that didn't impress me, probably because I've seen it all before. Neil was supposed to be an evil guy who was trying to corrupt a sweet, angelic girl. Lauren is no angel (as they admitted in the interview), and the routine might have been better if the roles had been switched. But I digress. The choreography itself was a mishmash of Ramalama and the hobo routines, but even so, Neil was actually quite good in it. At one point, he did this toe drag chase that was absolutely incredible. Lauren, however, was over the top and annoying. At one point, she runs away from Neil, screaming with a crazed look on her face. And no, I'm not shitting you -- the girl was SCREAMING, louder than the music!!!!!! The judges, though, inexplicably loved both of them. I'm so tired of the show pimping this girl. And worse yet, the fact that they got a Wade routine is probably going to be a free pass for them.

And that was the episode. My predicted bottom three is the following:
Cedric/Shauna (please, God); Jaime/Hok (but he's so popular, who knows?); and Danny/Anya (there are WAY too many people who are buying into the arrogance thing). We shall see.



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